In conjunction with Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity, the House began hearings today on a bill called "Improving Nutrition for America's Children." For Top Chef fans, Tom Colicchio is involved. (The show recently had an episode in which the contestants were charged with providing a healthy and tasty school lunch for a D.C. school, and many fell into the same traps that schools do, providing too few vegetables and too many high-carbohydrate foods.)
Largely, that's because of cost -- lots of fruits and vegetables cost more than cheaper, fattier foods. This legislation will only increase the amount for each student's lunch by 6 cents (schools get about $2.68 per student now).
But, via the blog Obama Foodorama, there are a number of other noteworthy things the bill does. Among them is automatically enrolling children in the free lunch program using Medicaid and S-CHIP data and using census data to determine the number of students in particular schools who qualify. It would also increase nutrition education, promote meal services for kids in community programs and remove a lot of administrative costs for schools.
Chairman George Miller started by noting how much influence children have over their families, sharing what they learn and bringing it home. Republicans, of course, are worried that the bill costs $8 billion. But surely it's a worthy investment. Children are certainly influencing parents now to buy the sweet, salty foods they see advertised during their favorite cartoons, so there's no reason to think the reverse wouldn't work.
-- Monica Potts
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